Driven by an all-consuming passion, the plant hunters traveled around the world, facing challenges at every turn: tropical illnesses, extreme terrain, and dangerous animals. They battled piranhas, tigers, and vampire bats. Even the plants themselves could be lethal! But these intrepid eighteenth- and nineteenth-century explorers were determined to find and collect new and unusual specimens, no matter what the cost. Then they tried to transport the plants―and themselves―home alive. Creating an important legacy in science, medicine, and agriculture, the plant hunters still inspire the scientific and environmental work of contemporary plant enthusiasts.
Working from primary sources―journals, letters, and notes from the field―Anita Silvey introduces us to these daring adventurers and scientists. She takes readers into the heart of their expeditions to then-uncharted places such as the Amazon basin, China, and India. As she brings a colorful cast of characters to life, she shows what motivated these Indiana Jones–type heroes. In The Plant Hunters, science, history, and adventure have been interwoven to tell a largely forgotten―yet fascinating―story.